BRIGHTON, Mass. – It isn’t exactly going to be David Backes playing against the St. Louis Blues, but Bruins third-line center Riley Nash said he’ll certainly be feeling heightened emotions against his former Carolina Hurricanes team on Thursday night.
It might be a little bit more powerful the first time the 27-year-old Nash steps into the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., as a visiting player, but he's played 242 games over a five-season span for Carolina, his only NHL team. Rather than harboring any kind of bitterness about breaking with the Hurricanes as an unrestricted free agent last summer, Nash simply sounded grateful for the chance to break into the league with Carolina.
“It’s a little different. I’ve never had this feeling before. It’s exciting,” said Nash, who went to lunch with his former roommate Justin Faulk on Wednesday. “I’m really happy to be here [in Boston] and I don’t have anything negative to say about them. Ron Francis was awesome to me. He took care of me. So this is just a new opportunity for me. I’m happy to be where I’m at, and I’m really enjoying this group of guys.
“There will obviously be a little more motivation for me tonight, but also probably a few laughs when I see certain guys on the ice. But other than that it will be business as usual.”
The Bruins have received an interesting little player in Nash, who posted a goal and four assists in 23 games, and been able to kill penalties and play multiple positions. The former first-round pick has shown he can play up and down the B’s lineup, including a stint with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand when David Pastrnak was injured. He’s even 6-for-12 in the shootout as a viable option Claude Julien can go to among higher-powered offensive players like Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak.